July 03, 2007

Herbals and Alternative Therapies Used with Anitseizure Medications Should be Monitored by Doctors

Many people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder are prescribed antiseizure medications to alleviate mood symptoms, seizures, migraines, chronic pain, or other problems. Some herbal and simple food supplements can interfere with the working of some antiseizure medications, creating combinations that reduce the antiseizure medication's ability to work or creating unwanted side-effects.

Current Psychiatry Online has an article warning that doctors need to know not only which prescription medications other doctors have prescribed, but also which non-prescription herbal and botanical complementary therapies other doctors have the patient on, or are being self-administered.

The article claims that about 40% of Americans use nutritional supplements for a wide range of reasons. Doctors need to be aware of why the patient is taking the supplements and take that into consideration when formulating treatment. If a reason a person is using a supplement is to self-medicate because of unhappiness with their current treatment, the doctor needs to know that.

If the antiseizure medication is being used to control seizures, particular care must be used to ensure that the patient does not use supplements known to lower seizure threshold, such as black cohosh, water hemlock, ephedra, kava kava, yohimbine, guarana, and ginkgo seeds.

But even other common supplements (and even foods themselves) can interact with medications depending on how they and the medications are metabolized. For instance, commonly prescribed "first-generation" anti-seizure medications used as mood stabilizers, such as carbamazepine (Tegretol) and valproic acid (Depakote), are metabolized in the liver by a "cytochrome P-450" pathway. Therefore, care must be taken with anything else that is metabolized the same way.

Read the article: Dangerous duo: Antiepileptics plus herbals (Free subscription is required)

Related Reading: Medicine Safety Checklist


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